While the initial premise of this essay may seem blatantly obvious to some, to others it is an already accepted way of life (at least tacitly). The role that alcohol plays in the current sphere of the capitalist state is widely disregarded and shrugged off by most who consider themselves ‘normal’ members of these societies. I’m not talking about alcoholism as a disease (which could be covered in many, many more pages); but rather alcohol as something for today’s modern worker bees to not only crave, but to plan their lives outside of the ‘work week’ around (who would go to a party with no booze these days? seriously?). I am guilty of this, as most of us who live within these avenues of normalcy are. You had a long day working so you could be afforded the luxury of food in your stomach and a roof over your head (because, as you know, “not everyone is lucky enough to live in America”). Once these most basic of needs are satisfied, you crave very little more than self liberation. The feeling of some sort of relative freedom. Freedom like a Bar Stool. I know, getting smooshed with your mates after a tough day/week/year/lifetime in the Western world is quite the adventure into personal liberation for you. You do this almost as instinctively as eating, sleeping, fucking, working…
We may need to dive a bit deeper into the realm of the subconscious to really analyze the various neurological conditions involved. But I’m not a doctor so we’ll skip that for now. What we can do is look at what the modern working conditions for many different types of people employed in the industrialized world. By conditions, it must be stated that the ones we must speak of are generally more mental than physical, at least for some. There are many different types of work; nearly all are (not to sound too Marxist) alienating to the true nature of one’s self… Pre-determined and accepted in subconscious self-defeat… How many people truly, genuinely, love their fucking job, and have been doing the same thing for years on end? How many of you would honestly do what you do for money, right now, if you could be doing anything else in the world? The question is hypothetical and a bit abstract (we can’t imagine a world without *gulp* money!!) But many of us, or most of us, would probably rather be spending our time doing something much more self-satisfying than working for something that’s as shockingly abstract as money (think about it). It’s true and we all know it! So what’s one thing we can all easily do about it? No, the answer (of course) isn’t to stand up to the people who are actually trying to ruin our lives; that would make too much sense, as there are plenty more of “us” than of “them.” The solution is to have a beer or two or five or ten! At least this is the case for many folks who are subconsciously unhappy with their current way of life. Many of these same beautiful individuals are often the life of the party! The professional drinkers (everyone knows that when you feed this clown 8 shots of tequila something ape shit is gonna go down!) manage to pull this off exceedingly well, this façade of feeling well; the mirage of an American Dream.
Normalcy equates to acceptance. Acceptance is so damn tempting, and it’s ubiquitous. Very little is easier than giving in and accepting. Basically, we are looking for some seal of approval from nearly everyone around us. That is why we do everything it is that we do. Part of this mass acceptance orgy is the drinking culture. There is a certain camaraderie involved with sharing a room with a bunch of (mostly) strangers and drinking yourself into oblivion. No one is going to judge you (for the drinking part of it all anyway) and this sort of tacit understanding between all in attendance is a form of acceptance. And goddamn, does it feel good. On the surface, as an isolated incident, this would not be cause for any serious concern. However, when outside factors involved are probed, the picture becomes as hazy as your vision after a 9 hour binge. The most important thing for us to realize is that there is something fundamentally wrong with craving intoxication in our day to day lives. There is a more natural way to feeling liberated.
It always starts with the advertising. From a young age, advertisements flooded our eyes, ears, and brains with millions of slogans, logos, and ‘acceptable’ ways to live our lives. As a soon to be well-known philosopher once said, “There are no accidents in the Republic.” When applied to marketing the consumption of alcohol to people in industrialized societies, this perspective glares eerily true. This sort of functioning alcoholism amongst a vast majority of young workers is manufactured and then encouraged by the capitalist paradigm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government had a stake in all major breweries in some way or another (conspiracy theorists, you can have this one). For one, it is one of the few drugs that is actual legal in the eyes of the state. Aside from pharmaceuticals and tobacco (which are on a different part of the same spectrum of which we are currently speaking), alcohol is the only legitimate drug to abuse (with relative responsibility). And the penalties for breaking any number of minor laws regarding the drug are, in the big picture of things, quite mundane and soft when compared to penalties handed out for other ‘illegal’ drugs. It may even be argued that alcohol has ruined more lives in the industrialized world than every other ‘illegal’ drug combined. I will not bore you with statistics; if you are so inclined I am sure the ‘google’ function will steer you in the right direction. However, it is extremely important to realize the type of culture that we are being urged to sustain. Five days of dread followed by two of relative liberation and freedom from capitalist labor. And what to do with the evenings of such days of freedom?- Forget about the other five days.
… and that is exactly how it is expected to go (using the ‘no accidents in the Republic’ philosophy). Don’t let your habits effect your work, but let your habits subdue you to the point of not caring about 71% of your days. Functioning alcoholism in obedience with the State. The fact that they have been able to separate our lives into two or more different segments (work, social, etc) and have trained us to accept giving them roughly 70% of our time is quite outstanding. Now, I suppose it would be extremely narrow minded to have this issue perceived as only a working class issue; it is very obviously not. But the elite and wealthy drink for different reasons (whether they know it or not). The abstract concept of money is not going to make them happy. There is nothing self liberating about wealth. It is also important to address this issue to further question what exactly it is we are working for. If money, and the freedoms that such abstractions can bring, do not make the rich truly happy, then what is the point of working to amass capital?
The next part of the socialization process, after advertising, is the post-secondary education party culture. This is where the future ‘middle class’ learns how exactly t0 perfect the scheme of functioning alcoholism. By this point, most of our brains have already adapted to the 5 days on, 2 days off philosophy and have embraced it wholly through years of the education system. The process of struggling through five days of studies, writing papers, attending classes and the like followed by a two day hiatus of binge drinking and parties is solidly in place as priming future wage slaves for an obedient working life. The combination of drugs with tiny parcels of entertainment (sports, music, television, etc) is enough for most folks to forget about the rest of their lives. Today’s college campuses, at least in my brief yet varied experiences, lack the overall revolutionary ideologies of generations past. This isn’t to say that all college campuses are the same, or that all college students get lost in the cesspool. But we can agree that an overwhelming majority of state universities across the United States are producing far more ants than scorpions. Instead of advancing upon liberating principles of the 60s and 70s (and, honestly, the end result of resistance in the 60s and 70s, aside from minor scratches on the surface of ‘civil rights,’ did little to clog the capitalist cog from turning, let alone from shifting gears), we have regressed into an even more oppressive capitalist state than ever before. However, the educated (former) middle-class is just one example of structured self-medication and functional alcoholism. Many of these people are the same ones residing in modern cities across the country and globe. This is where the paradigm must be ignited.
In summation, I am not out-and-out shit-talking drinking; no one has ever said anything about becoming a straight-edge culture, nor would we necessarily want such a culture to exist. But the beer shouldn’t need to be the life of the party. There is another way to feeling a lot better than you do after a 12 pack. A certain amount of awareness needs to be raised about the issue of the capitalists stance on alcohol consumption, as part of breaking the spell they have cast on us and striving for a better life. Sure, mixed messages are sent from the powers-that-be, but after only a small bit of insight, it is plain to see that they want us at least mildly intoxicated most of the time, thus protecting their precious glass status-quo. However, let it be said: When we are dancing on the rubble of the tower the (former) ruling class has madly created, we are going to throw the biggest fucking party in modern history, and everyone is invited.